Alternatively Titled: I Realized How Having Both Kids in School Was Like My Freshman Year of College
Last week, my computer unexpectedly died. There I was, cleaning the desktop and trash bin, when I decided to install the latest software update.
There were scary screen twitches. The info at the top of the screen was a dark red color covered with black and gray etches. It was very Carole Ann and the snowy TV screen from Poltergeist.
Sometime around 12:15am, I gave up googling triage options and made an appointment at the Genius Bar.
And then I cried. Not silent tears of defeat. No, these tears were more like from toddler tantrum meltdown. I was irrational. I had no words.
I felt helpless.
I couldn't write my blog post. I couldn't work on some other essays I wanted to submit. School is almost out for the summer and I barely accomplished anything!
HOW WAS I GOING TO REACH MY GOALS WITH A BROKEN COMPUTER?!
And then that's when it hit me: this was so much more than a broken computer.
For months, I've had this underlying feeling of discontent. I always fantasized that when both kids were in school full time, I would rule the world.
Take care of the house!
Have lunch with friends!
Volunteer at school!
I would do all of the things and still feel refreshed when I skipped on down to the bus stop and started the after school/dinner grind.
At first it was awesome. I exercised during normal daylight hours instead of waking up at before dawn.
I went out to lunch almost every day. This was glorious! When I was a junior high teacher, I only had 20 minutes to eat AND go to the bathroom. When I was home with babies and toddlers, it was just enough to go to Target for diapers let alone sit in a restaurant to eat a meal. Eating food that I did not prepare nor having to clean up felt like I! Had! Arrived!
Turns out that once I worked out and had lunch, I didn't have as much time as I thought to do all of the things. Honest Mom totally articulates my feelings here.
I spent most of this year rearranging my blocks of time in various orders to try and fit it all in. And I couldn't. I was constantly falling short of my expectations.
This totally reminded me of my freshman year of college. I thought it would be this party and I would be besties with my roommates as we giggled through all-nighters and ate soft serve ice cream in between classes.
Freshman year was the opposite of that, actually. It was a lot of hard work, and I hated my roommates. Plus, there was no unlimited soft serve ice cream. (That along with endless nacho cheese came during sophomore year at a different school – which is a story for another time).
So during this breakdown, I had a breakthrough. I have a tendency to build something up in my mind and create standards that are impossible to meet.
Freshman year was just one example.
There was that time I though seventh grade would be like the Sweet Valley Twins series. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. These were, in fact, the worst years of my life).
Or when my flowery image of natural childbirth courtesy of TLC’s Baby Story did not match up to my unplanned C-section.
And then the time I thought teaching junior high in an upper middle class school would somehow be a mix between Dead Poets Society and Mr. Holland’s Opus. (It ended up being more like Mean Girls).
This constant feeling of letting myself down because I can’t reach my unattainable expectations chips away at my happiness and self-worth.
And I don’t want to live like that anymore.
I’m not sure how to stop this since it’s clear that I’ve been doing this my entire life. I’m a doer; I believe I can *DO* anything. I just need to manage my expectations. Upon writing this post, I also think it’s imperative to reexamine how much I let media infiltrate my visions of success.
I didn’t expect to have a broken computer fix my perspective, but I am grateful (and grateful for Neil at the Genius Bar for not only installing my new hard drive, but being very gentle with this fragile soul).
Have you had a recent breakthrough? How do you deal with reality vs. your expectations?
So excited that my post about the moment I realized I was no longer a full-time stay-at-home mom was picked up by Huffington Post Parents. I would love it if you clicked on over and let me know what you think!